Review will be included in a full Volume review of Warders: Volume 2.
This is, perhaps, the second best story in all the series (with Sinnerman taking first place).
Again, there was the issue with 1st person POV not being informative enough – a theme that is persistent in all the stories of this series. Unless you can remember each character by name and their association with the others in the story, then it takes far too long to learn who the 1st person POV is actually from. This one took 3 pages for us to get Marcus' name. Though knowing that it was a warder who was a lawyer helped point me in the right direction, it takes far too long to find out who the POV is for, even taking until page 2 for us to find out it's Joseph's warder mate.
Marcus and Joe are only our second established couple of the series, but I love them. I actually believed their relationship more than Simon and Leith's, which made a little more sense when we found out here (though not during Simon and Leith's story, as far as I can remember) that they'd only been together less than a year. Marcus and Joe, however, have had six years together and that was obvious from the way they worked as such a cohesive team and how much more organic and natural their relationship was. Joe was my favourite, especially with the way that he reacted to Marcus. Being a gay, interracial couple in a small 'hick' town, while Joe is blind and Marcus is black, could have spelled so much trouble, even with Joe's family. But the way he handled it was beautifully done.
I was proud, but also sad, to see the way Joe handled being around his cousin Kyle, and to learn their history. Proud because he was still strong, he hadn't let that incident define him or destroy him, but sad because he could never escape that memory with Kyle at every family gathering. At the same time, I loved the way he turned to Marcus for protection, so trusting and so sure that he'd be there. Joe sees Marcus so clearly, despite being blind. He knows and trusts everything about him, the same way that Marcus does with Joe. So when their relationship hit that rocky patch near the end, I almost died! It just wasn't fair. But then it was worked through, screamed through and resolved and I felt whole again.
The whole thing was just a master class in beautiful storytelling and masterful planning.
““A warder has to be able to return to his hearth and home to be cared for and find sanctuary and draw power. I understand my role, and it's as vital to me as it is to you. I love you and I know my value. But I can't leave my family in danger, and I know you can't, either. So let's handle this and then go home so you can fight alongside your brothers.”
He was decisive and firm and absolute. It was hard to contain my love for him, because really, the man was phenomenal.
“Just say, 'Yes, Joe, I agree.'”
“Yes, Joe, I agree,” I sighed.
“I go with you, Marcus. Don't be stupid.”
Of course he did.”